‘Art of Mindfulness’ paints a new picture for mental health


As students gear up to return to classes this fall at George Mason University, more local and university events will be offered, including events like the Art of Mindfulness Summer Series event, which took place at the Van Metre Plaza at Mason Square in Arlington.

man at a table painting
An Art of Mindfulness participant mixes paint colors. Photo by Cristian Torres/Strategic Communications

Sophie Gorshenin is the assistant director for regional campuses for University Life, and Mason alum Kerry Hentges, programming and administrative coordinator for University Life, worked together on the event.

“It’s a collaboration between University Life Arlington with Grad Student Life and University Life SciTech,” said Gorshenin, who is currently working on her PhD in higher education.

This event was a part of the Mason Square Activation of the Plaza, and is one of many that are held in collaboration with University Life

Art workshops, such as the event on the plaza, are “perfect for mental health because no matter what you’re feeling you can put that into your art as a way of expressing yourself,” said Hentges, who has an MFA in art and visual technology from Mason and is enrolled in Mason’s art education program and hopes to begin teaching art to K-12 students.

woman in mason gear teaching a painting class outside
Host Kerry Hentges explains her painting techniques to participants. Photo by Cristian Torres/Strategic Communications

The goal of the event was to show participants how to meditate as well as channel emotions through a creative outlet, in order to benefit overall mental health.

“There are a lot of studies that show that collaborating with the community is not only a great way to network, but to really build a sense of belonging,” said Gorshenin.

“Creative thinking is most definitely an important part of any path,” said Hentges. “Whether you’re studying math or science or history, creative thinking is core for any of those subject areas, so I think it’s important that people stretch themselves even if you’re not really comfortable with art.”

For students who struggle to bring out their creative side or feel like they don’t have the time to do so, “the best thing to do is pick a time, set it on your phone for 15 minutes,” said Hentges. “If your favorite thing is painting, paint for 15 minutes.”

For those looking for a creative outlet, but don’t have a lot of art experience, Hentges recommends Zen tangles, “You free draw a bunch of lines and fill them with patterns, and it’s quick destress that allows for creativity, but doesn’t take up too much of your day.”

The upcoming Mason event, Activate Your Well-Being, will take place on September 15 and offers students and locals an interactive experience exploring go-to activities that will help to enhance your well-being.